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The 3-3-3 Rotation

February 3, 2009

 
I want to make four points with this essay:
 
1. Every single team in baseball follows a specific strategy.  
2. That strategy can be easily demonstrated as ineffective.
3. There is a simple solution to fix the inefficiencies of that strategy, a solution that has the potential to dramatically improve any team, and,
4. As radical as the solution might appear, baseball is already, gradually, moving towards it.
 
1. Every Single Team in Baseball Follows a Specific Strategy
 
On October 16th, 2003, Pedro Martinez was Cinderella.
 
Everyone in Boston knew it. Prettiest girl at the ball, sure: the best damned pitcher any of us had ever seen. But when the clock struck midnight, all hell promised to break loose. We all knew it, and we prayed like crazy for the fairy godmother to save the day.
 
I remembered his 100th pitch. It was a swinging strike to Alfonso Soriano, a pitch that ended the 7th inning of the 7th Game of the ALCS. By the time Pedro returned to the mound to throw his 101st pitch, the score was 5-2 and Boston was winning.  
 
It was risky to bring Pedro back for the 8th inning. Anyone who had watched Pedro in 2003 knew he struggled in late innings. During the year he had been his typically brilliant self, but it was well-known that he was coming off shoulder troubles the year before, and that he struggled late in games. Besides, the heart of the Yankee order was coming up, a group that had already faced Pedro three times that night, and in five other games that season.
 
Nick Johnson was the first batter. He waited on the first five pitches, working the count full before popping out to the shortstop on pitch 107. And then all hell broke lose:
 
Derek Jeter doubled on pitch 110.
Bernie Williams singled on pitch 115.
Hideki Matsui doubled on pitch 118.
Jorge Posada doubled on pitch 123.
 
The clock struck midnight. The carriage turned into a pumpkin. And Pedro Martinez, the greatest pitcher ever, was getting hit hard. Posada’s double, the fourth consecutive hit against Martinez, tied the game. Three innings later Aaron Boone finished the work, landing the Yankees in the World Series.
 
2. The Strategy Can Be Easily Demonstrated As Ineffective
 
Why did Grady Little let Pedro Martinez continue to pitch?
 
I don’t know. And frankly, I don’t really care to speculate. What is obvious to me, what was obvious to every fan in Boston who was watching that game, was that there were two very compelling reasons why Pedro shouldn’t have been pitching.
 
1. Each of the Yankee hitters had already batted against him three times that night, and
2. Pedro had reached 100 pitches, a strong indicator of performance decline.  
 
Letting him pitch was a bad decision. It reflected poor strategy. And what I’d like to know is:
 
-Why does any pitcher face a batter three times in one game? For that matter, why does any pitcher face a batter twice in one game?
 
-Why does any pitcher throw more than 100 pitches in an outing?  For that matter, why does any pitcher throw more than 50 pitches in an outing?
 
A few numbers from 2008:
 

 
PA
BA
OBP
SLG
OPS
1st PA in G
108606
.255
.328
.398
.727
2nd PA in G
44505
.270
.334
.431
.765
3rd+ PA in G
34520
.282
.346
.453
.800

 
Last year, hitters posted a .727 OPS the first time they faced a pitcher. Their OPS went up thirty-eight points the second time the hitter faced the pitcher. It went up another thirty-five points the third plate appearance.
 
The same holds true in 2007. And in 1957. And every year in between. The more times a pitcher faces a hitter, the better the hitter will do.
 
This is a blindingly obvious truth, applicable in every facet of life. The more you do something, the better you get at it. If you take the same math test over and over again, you’re bound to get better at it. The same thing for hitting: if you see a pitcher over and over again, eventually you get better at hitting that pitcher.
 
A similar pattern is echoed in pitch-counts:
 

 
PA
BA
OBP
SLG
OPS
Pitch 1-25
87685
.261
.333
.410
.743
Pitch 26-50
39383
.257
.326
.400
.726
Pitch 51-75
31791
.270
.333
.429
.763
Pitch 76-100
24261
.277
.344
.450
.795

 
Starting pitchers are less effective after pitch 50 than they are before pitch 50 (though it should be said that, at least in 2008, there was a slight decline in offense at pitches 26-50, perhaps attributable to lineup construction).
 
Still not convinced that pitchers are less effective the second time through a lineup? Or that a pitcher is more effective before pitch 50 than after pitch 50? I have another table.
 
We can all, I think, agree that starting pitchers are better than relief pitchers. There is a long list of lousy starting pitchers who became effective bullpen pitchers. In contrast, there have been very few bad relief pitchers who went on to become effective starters. Starters are better pitchers.
 
Yet major league hitters had a harder time hitting against relief pitchers last year: 
 

 
IP
BA
OBP
SLG
OPS
As Starters
28198
.269
.333
.426
.759
As Relievers
15159
.254
.333
.397
.731

 
This is a crucial concept to grasp for the next step: relief pitchers are less skilled than starting pitchers. Yet they are more effective against hitters? Why?
 
The only obvious variable is the usage pattern. Relief pitchers are used more effectively than starting pitchers.
 
3. There is a Simple Solution to Fix the Inefficiencies of That Strategy, a Solution That Would Dramatically Improve Any Team
 
The solution is simple: do away with starting pitchers.
 
Change the way starting pitchers are used. Instead of asking starting pitchers to pitch to 25-33 hitters every fifth or sixth day, have them throw to 8-14 hitters every third day.
 
For an eleven-man staff, this would require some juggling. I would suggest regrouping the pitchers as follows: take the nine best pitchers and put them into three 3-pitcher sub-rotations. These sub-rotations would be scheduled to pitch every third game, and would take turns rotating within the group as to who starts, who pitches in the middle, and who closes.
 
During the games, allow each pitcher of the sub-rotation one turn through the batting order. The pitcher can then pitch to the batting order a second time, so long as a) there is a platoon advantage (for instance: of the first four batters in the lineup, three are left-handed, and your pitcher is left-handed), and b) the pitcher’s pitch count is under 75. Obviously, one would be more likely to give good pitchers more additional batters than mediocre pitchers. But keep the good pitchers on a tight pitch-count.
 
The first nine pitchers would be one these rotating sub-rotations. The last two pitchers would be reserved for special occasions: when the game went into extra innings, or when the score was particularly one-sided score. These guys are the ‘scapegoat’ pitchers.
 
Let’s call it this system the 3-3-3 Rotation: three pitchers pitch three innings each, every third game. 3-3-3.
 
In such a system, each pitcher on the sub-teams would make about fifty-four appearances a year. If they averaged 3 innings of work during each appearance, they would throw 162 innings, a reasonable amount. This could be adjusted to give the better pitchers more innings: if the best pitchers were granted one extra innings every other start, their inning pitched count would go up to 189 innings.
 
As to whether or not a pitcher can endure pitching 2-4 innings every third day: I think the answer is yes: they could. Relief pitchers today do this all the time. And there is no great difference between a reliever throwing on two-, three-, or four-days rest:
 
 

2008
PA
BA
OBP
SLG
OPS
Reliever, 2 Days Rest
13772
.255
.338
.393
.731
Reliever, 3 Days Rest
8049
.263
.344
.414
.759
Reliever, 4 Days Rest
4502
.255
.336
.388
.724

 
Relief pitchers pitching on two-days rest are just as effective as relief pitchers on three- and four-days rest.
 
I’m not smart enough to know exactly how well this would work, but I am confident that it would be a better allocation of pitching resources than the one being used today. Forced to estimate, I think a team could shave off 30-80 points in their opponents OPS by adopting this strategy.
 
A change of 50 points in OPS won’t make the worst rotation in baseball (816 OPS), comparable to the best (.683 OPS). But I do such a strategy, if applied carefully, could mean the difference between finishing .500 and playing in the postseason.  
 
4. As radical as the solution might appear, baseball is already, gradually, moving towards it.
 
In one hundred years, the 3-3-3 rotation, or some variation on it, will be the norm in professional baseball. Pitchers will be trained to make shorter appearances every third day. The concept of the pitching staff will undergo a dramatic change. Statistics such as ‘wins’ and ‘saves’ will become antiquated, replaced by other statistics that can better measure this new strategy.
 
The reason is this: baseball is a dynamic, ever-changing entity. As such, it is subject to the same evolutionary principles that all dynamic entities are subject to: evolution. In baseball, strategies that work; strategies that aid teams in winning baseball games, those strategies endure. They thrive. The strategies that don’t help teams win baseball games die out.
 
In baseball, teams have been reducing the strain on pitchers for one hundred and fifty years. This has been, if not constant, at least consistent. We have fewer complete games now. We have larger rotations. Starters pitch less innings and complete fewer games. Relievers make more appearances. Everyone is making shorter appearances.
 
Why?
 
Evolutionary theory. Successful strategies endure: they are tried and then adopted and then embraced. Baseball is always moving towards increasingly successful strategies. If strategies don’t work, they aren’t used. If strategies do work, they are incorporated more and more into the game.
 
A strategy that doesn’t work is a three- or four-man starting rotation. A strategy that doesn’t work is letting one pitcher pitch an entire game. Those strategies have been in a steep decline for a long time.
 
A strategy that does work is short, frequent appearances. And the implementation of this strategy is, as one would expect, increasing. This strategy is being used more today than it was twenty years ago. It was being used more twenty years ago than forty years ago. And it will be used with even greater frequency in the future.
 
What Does This Mean?
 
I doubt that any team is going to read this article and decide to overhaul their pitching staff this year. I doubt it, but I strongly suggest that they do.
 
Here’s the thing: in ten years this idea won’t seem groundbreaking at all. In ten years, some teams will be tinkering with this. I daresay that some teams will have already attempted a similar structure. I say this because this is, logically, the next step in pitching strategy. Nowadays most starters don’t go past the sixth inning. How far of a jump is it to pull your starter after four innings? After three innings?
 
The concept of the 3-3-3 Rotation, as outlandish as it may appear, is exactly where major league baseball is heading. It is the logical conclusion to the trends of the last one hundred and fifty years.
 
There is a chance, right now, for a team to get ahead of the game. The door is open. The opportunity to improvement is there for whatever team is bold enough or desperate enough to defy conventional wisdom and take a chance.
 
(Dave Fleming is a writer living in Iowa City. He is certain that no one will ever capture the humble beauty of watching baseball in Fenway Park better than John Updike did in 1960.)

 
 

COMMENTS (20 Comments, most recent shown first)

OldBackstop
Not sure if anyone reads comments on old articles, but I have often thought through something like this, in part for two reasons I don't think are on here -- pitcher's arms' health, and the pinch hit benefit in the NL. Basically, you could almost structure it simply as the pitcher goes until his place comes up in the rotation. The issue I had in making this work is roster spots...you'd want a bunch of versatile platooney guys, switchhitters with multiple filed position ability. You might hold back your starting slugger until their was an advantageous situation in the early innings, so a high OBP speed guy can lead off an inning, and a high RBI guy can come in when there are runners on.
11:01 AM Dec 4th
 
papahans5
- I seem to remember Doug Melvin, GM of the Brewers, trying this a few years ago in the minor leagues, but I never remember hearing of what came of it. Sorry, no cites on it yet.
9:51 AM Apr 1st
 
jollydodger
I employ this strategy playing baseball video games. As soon as there is a platoon advantage to exploit the 2nd time through an order, I bring in my fireballer closer. After a few innings, I bring in the next best starter or closer to finish the game. I blow batters away throughout the entire game. The 2 largest obstacles to this becoming real aren't managers or tradition, but players. Pitchers hold tight to stats like wins and saves. Win and save numbers = big dollars for them. Not until they are separated from that can this take hold in baseball reality.

btw, in video game land, I only had to alternate pitchers every other day (utilizing only 6 pitchers instead of 9).
5:26 PM Feb 13th
 
DaveFleming
Thanks, Chris, for the research. I wish I had known about LaRussa'sment, but my baseball awareness in 1993 was limited to US Today, The Boston Globe, baseball cards, and an occasional issue of the Sporting News. I missed all the cutting edge stuff.

Thanks again. The research is appreciated.


5:16 PM Feb 11th
 
cderosa
Hi Dave,
Here's some info on the LaRussa experiment I looked up back in '03, after the Jays tried to go with a 4-man rotation and their pitchers whined their way out of it:
Back in 1993, the A’s concocted one of the funkiest rotation ideas anyone has had in a while. They were losing it as a team, and decided to sort their staff into an atraditional pattern of designated squads handling every third game. I may have some of the details wrong, but I think the idea was that no pitcher would throw more than about 50 pitches, and you’d have Eck for saves and another pitcher or two for extra innings and emergencies. What I remember about this is as follows:
a. LaRussa emphasized flexibility, saying that the plan wasn’t iron-clad and could change day to day,
b. Gammons said on TV that of course insiders knew this was the healthy way to run a pitching staff,
c. It lasted less than a week.
I’m looking this up on Retrosheet.org. OK, the A’s, division winners in 1992, where a last place team in 1993. After the All Star break, Oakland lost three of four to the Yankees in NY, with none of their starting pitchers lasting more than five innings. It may be that Oakland started this experiment after the break, but I don’t think their lines look like a three-man/floating rotation; just a normal rotation getting hammered. For each pitcher, I give innings/runs, and the number of batters faced for the starter:

7/15@NY W 8-3 Darling 4/3 26 bf; Mohler-W 2/0; Horsman 1/0; Gossage 1/0
7/16@NY L 3-10 Downs-L 4.1/6 21 bf; Boever 0.2/2; Briscoe 2/1; Hillegas 1/1
7/17@NY L 5-9 Witt-L 3.1/7 21 bf; Horsman 0.2/0; Goose 1/1; Mohler 1/0; Boever 1/1; Hillegas 1/0
7/18@NY L 6-13 Welch 5/3 23 bf; Nunez-L 1.1/3; Horsman 0/1; Goose 0.2/6; Eckersley 1/0

The next day they were in Cleveland, and the experiment was apparently on:

7/19 @Cle L 2-4 Van Poppel-L 4/3 17 bf; Darling 4/1 16 bf

7/20 @Cle L 5-9 Mohler-L 1.2/5 10 bf; Boever 0.1/1; Campbell 1/0; Witt
4/2 18 bf; Briscoe 1/1

7/21@Cle W 7-2 Downs 4/1 15 bf; Welch-W 3/0 12 bf; Horsman 0/1; Goose 1/0; Eckersley 1/0

7/22@Bos L 7-9 Van Poppel 2.2/2 13 bf; Campbell 1.1/0; Darling 3/5 17 bf; Nunez-L 1/2

7/23@Bos L 5-6 Mohler 3/2 15 bf; Witt 4/0 15 bf; Eckersley 2/3; Gossage-L 0.2/1

Six pitchers, Van Poppel, Mohler, Downs, Darling, Witt, and Welch, went on a pattern of pitching every third day (two days’ rest). The experiment didn’t run long enough to see what pattern, if any, they intended for the bullpen. The six members of the 3-day rotation never faced as many as 20 batters in an appearance. It is likely that they were limited to 50-60 pitches each time out.
In the first game, Van Poppel and Darling combined to hold Cleveland to 4 runs in 8 innings, and lost. The next day, Mohler couldn’t get through his assignment, and LaRussa used two relievers to get to Witt, who was marginally effective, 4 innings and 2 runs. Oakland won the next game, when Kelly Downs and Bob Welch combined for 7 innings and one run. In the opener of the Boston series, both Van Poppel and Darling bombed. In the second game, Mohler got hit but managed to turn the game over to Witt, who threw four shutout innings. Eckersley came in the 8th and gave up three runs, then pitched a scoreless ninth. Rich Gossage lost the game in the 10th.
The extra-inning loss seemed to end the experiment. Downs took his scheduled turn on two days rest, but was allowed to face 21 batters. Instead of Welch coming in for relief in a game in which they’d already gave up five runs, LaRussa saved him for the next day. Welch then started on three days’ rest, and faced 23 batters.

7/24 @Bos L 3-5 Downs-L 4.2/5 21 bf; Horsman 0.1/0; Boever 3/0

7/25 @Bos L 1-8 Welch-L 4.1/6; 23 bf; Honeycutt 0.2/1; Campbell 2/0; Horsman 1/1

The next day, the A’s were back on the West Coast to play the Angels. Ron Darling won the game with a traditional 6 inning start, and the A’s used a normal pattern for the rest of the year. In a 3-day rotation, if both “starters” line up their good outings, the plan works. If they both pitch badly, it doesn’t matter. It is the fear of one guy pitching well and the other guy getting blasted that makes this plan hard to use. An effective outing that might be converted into a win with just 25 or so more pitches could be wasted by pairing it with a really bad outing that incurs an almost automatic loss. Six days into the 3-day rotation, LaRussa seemed unwilling to invest a potentially good stint from Welch in a game gone bad (recalling the military maxim, “never reinforce failure”). Once he intervened, the results (1-4? 1-5?) did not seem attractive enough to work out how you could keep a 3-day rotation intact while holding an option on the second starter.

3:42 PM Feb 10th
 
DaveFleming
Boy, I wish I had known about LaRussa trying this in the 90's. Where can I read up on that?

And thanks for the kind words, all. It's nice to be back.
12:32 AM Feb 10th
 
elricsi
I could see things heading this way, but in order for any starter to agree to pitch less than 5 innings, they need to somehow change the win rule (which needs to be changed anyway). I think we need to assign partial wins to each pitcher that pitches effectively in each game. Then if that gains acceptance, this can be tried.
5:24 PM Feb 9th
 
ventboys
It's good to have you back Dave, by the way. We missed you...
11:19 PM Feb 6th
 
wydiyd
One case with the 3-3-3 was in the 1985 ALCS when Dick Howser kept pulling is RH starters, inserting LH starters after once through the lineup and then brought Quiz, a righty into close.
10:57 AM Feb 6th
 
Kev
Dave,

I meant to add that the 3-3-3 piece was insightful to the point of making me or any others who can't understand the rotation system used today green with envy for not trying to come up with an alternative. Kudos.
6:19 PM Feb 5th
 
sharc
I like the concept of a 3-3-3 staff as it's clear that pitchers are most effective the 1st time through a lineup. Another benefit is that it would do away with a lot of the one batter appearances by relief specialists that tend to take away momentum late in games. This is because with 9 "starters" you need to conserve arms. I wonder though, if there are enough pitchers who are able to be effective pitching over 140 innings a year. The 3-3-3 rotation almost doubles the number of guys who throw starter type innings, and are there enough talented arms to do this? Is it really beneficial to limit a Clemens type starter to under 200 innings while boosting the workload of some dude who otherwise would be a long reliever?
7:20 AM Feb 5th
 
ventboys
Another buy-product of this kind of pitching staff would be a nice place fofr the young studs, like David Price and Clayton Kershaw, Joba, etc. These guys clearly can get major league hitters out, but their arms are immature and, as so many studies show, susceptical to burnout if overused.

This kind of staff has a natural spot for them in the swing spots. They can go 2-4 innings twice a week, and get in 150 low impact innings a year, while filling an important role. I read Prospectus, and I noticed that most teams have their young studs pitching 4-5 innings per start while they are babies anyway, pretty much destroying minor league hitters. Why not have them pitch low leverage relief, and learn at the top level? I just can't see any downside to this that doesn't exist in any other system.
12:25 AM Feb 5th
 
schoolshrink
I was always mindful of the thought that great players are aberrations of the larger system, when the LaRussa experiment occurred. Bill James wrote about your proposal years ago, as was mentioned by other readers, but it lost steam, I think, because of the effectiveness of Mariano Rivera in his role, Randy Johnson, Clemens, et. al, as starters or relievers. I agree it is changing. The Phillies and Rays of a year ago had players that were less well known and thus harder to distinguish between starters and relievers. If teams like that continue to be successful, I would think the evolution of pitching rotations would continue. Similar to the way the NFL is described as a "copycat league," with weaker teams copying the Cover 2, West Coast Offense, etc., the 3-3-3 rotation will be copied if it is implemented and continues to be successful. But baseball seems to have a harder time making these adjustments than football. Bill expressed similar comments during the NFL season about this, how he admires the NFL about its ability to make adjustments to its game instead of thinking that certain traditions are sacrosanct.

Though the trend you reported has been observed by several people over the last decade, I happen to think that baseball's relative inflexibility is connected to its economic disparity. The Phillies and Rays are not the Yankees and Red Sox, but their success last year would make the notion of a 3-3-3 rotation more palatable, I would think, as those are MLB's wealthiest and most influential organizations. Boston is second richest in terms of net asset value, isn't it?
3:47 PM Feb 4th
 
evanecurb
Dave:
I have seen this idea posed before, and I think it's time that someone gave it a serious effort. Some teams have nothing to lose, really. There are a number of logistical considerations that will have to be ironed out, but I think it's a sound concept. There is one nagging question, though, that impacts this idea's viability: the predictability of pitching performances from one year to the next. It seems to me that relievers have been more susceptible to performance declines from one year to the next than starters. I also believe that the usage pattern that reduces injuries to their lowest possible level has not yet been discovered, and we certainly don't know the impact of frequent 50 pitch outings on pithcers' arms.
3:19 PM Feb 4th
 
ventboys
A 4 man rotation would allow a team to actually get MORE from the top 4 starters, and safely if the high leverage, tired innings are eliminated. We had the 40 start, 320 inning starter, then the 33 start, 250 inning starter, now it's 33 and 220, with mosst of the #3 and #4 guys around 200 innings. How about 40-250? Most of these guys throw almost every day now, but low leverage.

Add in a couple of guys that spot start and pitch 2 inning stints 2-3 times a week, and you are actually getting 1300-1400 innings out of your top 7 pitchers when you add the closer into the mix. Having those 2 guys (or 3, that would work as well) that can stretch out would give you some options for the inevitable injuries. In the current systems, when a good reliever is needed in the rotation he is either sent down to stretch out (losing one of your top 7 for a month or more) or tossed into the mix and invariably getting burned out, injured or beat up in the middle innings.

Joba, Soria and Morrow are good examples of outstanding relievers with sstuff to start, but who were used in such short stints that they either had to leave the team to stretch out (Joba, Morrow) or were basically trapped in the pen (Soria) due to other needs. If they had been used in multiple innings, getting some 3 inning appearances, this problem would have been eliminated, or the cure would have been shortened from a month plus to maybe a week or two. Also, wouldn't you rather have one of those guys pitching than all of those mediocre 12th and 13th men out there?

I like this discussion a lot. So much of what has changed in baseball over the last 30 years has come from Bill's work. The fact that this is being talked about here is a good sign that it is (or will be) being talked about in front offices.
12:53 PM Feb 4th
 
Richie
Glad somebody else also remembers the LaRussa experiment.

I wholeheartedly agree with the article. However:

I don't know that you want your 7th, 8th and 9th best pitchers throwing 150 or so innings per year. You'd prefer getting more innings from your top 2-3 guys.

Why I prefer the idea of a 4-day starting rotation. Your top 3 starters should still get 200+ innings per year, going 5-6 innings per start. The 4th guy swings in as schedule dictates, works out of the pen otherwise.

All our plans would suffer some unforeseen damage upon contact with reality.
10:51 PM Feb 3rd
 
ventboys
Dave, I've thought that some variation of this would work for many years. It's almost spooky how close we are on this.

Realistically it won't fly soon. I doubt that any manager would skip the many steps in between what is now the norm and this idea. What MIGHT fly would be to go back to 3 days rest and 75-90 pitches per start, and for chrissakes letting your better relievers pitch multiple innings once in awhile.

There is no real need to have 12-13 pitchers on a roster. Before the DH, 9 man staffs were fairly common. With the DH added to the mix, managers were able to make changes in mid inning without worrying about batting order manipulation, and I think that these mid inning changes have gotten out of hand as a result. Strategies mature, and the good ones are kept while the worthless ones are usually tossed out. Sooner or later a team (Red Sox, maybe?) will use 3 relievers effectively for 100-130 innings each, 55-60 games, and have a couple of others (a loogy and a roogie, maybe) for 80-90 games, 75 innings, win a World Series, and off to the races we go. One thing that will have to happen is that the role of closer will have to mature past this obsession with single inning saves, and closers will have to be willing to pitch in tie games and go multiple innings more often.
10:51 PM Feb 3rd
 
jrickert
I'm not so sure that this is on the way so quickly. It seems similar to what Earnshaw Cook proposed in the '60s,
and Tony LaRussa tried in the '90s
http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19930720&slug=1711920
The difference in OPS doesn't seem to be as large as the difference in talent between the best pitchers and the average, so there is likely to be a lot of resistance for such a nonstandard approach. LaRussa tried it with a poor Oakland team, and the strategy quickly died out. If someone as respected as LaRussa didn't get others to give it a try, it's likely that it'll take a while for it to get accepted.
Is some of the OPS advantage due to relief pitchers being brought in to get a platoon advantage?

9:33 PM Feb 3rd
 
SeanKates
What do the relief pitchers' stats look like when you adjust for their platoon advantages? I have a feeling most of the reason their stats don't change over time rested is due to their low use and this advantage. Not saying that it wouldn't be interesting, but using stats from today's usage to suggest things about possible alternate usage seems not to be the best means of doing it. I'd also like to know the number of relief pitchers who throw multiple innings every third or fourth day. I assume its fewer than one per team, and more likely numbers in single digits for the whole league. Could be wrong tho...
9:06 PM Feb 3rd
 
Trailbzr
While there's a lot of truth in what you say, I don't think this is exactly the problem or the solution toward which baseball is moving. Please assume there are a lot of "I think" and "in my opinion" phrases peppered through the following:
A typical pitching staff today is five starters, one closer, and six guys who can usually pitch one good inning if that's all they have to do (plus a bum or two, but we'll ignore them). Modern pitching game plans are, roughly speaking, six innings from the starter, then one inning from each of three relievers. Is this better than 3-3-3? Tt is probably necessary at current levels of offense.
The hitters (and their equipment) are so good today that very few teams can construct a complete staff without SOME relievers of the kind that can get a K an inning for one inning, and can be OK effective doing that; but couldn't do it for two innings. If offense was reduced to the level where a staff could be 11 guys, that would make a big difference. But as long as you need 13, some have to be of the "cheap power" variety. And as long as THAT'S the case, you need a starter who can cover six on a good day.
None of this should be construed as being from anyone who knows anything at all about pitching.

8:46 PM Feb 3rd
 
 
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